Columbina Inca – Inca Dove

Columbina Inca - Inca Dove found in the southern US

The Columbina inca, or commonly known as the Inca dove is a tiny New World bird. René Lesson, a French surgeon and naturalist, described it in 1847. has a thin body covered in feathers that resemble scales. The tail is long and square, with white feathers edging it. The underwings are scarlet, and the wings rustling sound when they take flight.

Quick Overview: Columbina Inca – Inca Dove
Body size: Around 7.5-8.5 in (19-22 cm) and a weight of 48 g (1.7 oz)
Main colors: Brown-gray, Black, White, Pink-gray, Gray, Red, Yellow
Range: Southern United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Columbina Inca Description

A little brownish-gray dove with black feather tips. It has a long rounded tail with white outer tail feathers. Legs and feet are pinkish-gray, and the beak is gray to black. Red rusty wing feathers in flight. The ground dove is extremely similar, but lacks the scaly look and has a square tail. The adult iris is dark red, whereas the juvenile iris is light yellow. Columbina Inca is said to be darker in the south.

Columbina Inca - Inca Dove found in the southern US
Columbina Inca – Inca Dove. Photo by: Becky Matsubara


These birds have a length of 7.5-8.5 in (19-22 cm) and a weight of 48 g (1.7 oz). Their wings could range from 12-13 in (30-33 cm).


In short vegetation, the Inca doves forage nearly completely on the ground. They visit backyard bird feeders. They consume grains, weeds, and grass seeds and dig in the ground to find them. They forage singly or in groups of over 100 birds, with the greatest groups occurring late afternoon. They will eat poultry. They need to drink 9% of their body weight in water daily. Obtaining water from pools, dripping faucets, or wet fruits on cactus or hydrants.


Residents of thorn forests and savanna. Wet and semiarid settings are preferred because of their limited tolerance for cold.


The Inca dove forages, roosts, and suns. In chilly conditions, it forms living pyramids with other members by standing on each other’s backs. These pyramids will collapse and reform with varied inner components. They can be gregarious or territorial during feeding and aggressive during breeding season.

Columbina Inca Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Columbiformes
  • Family: Columbidae
  • Genus: Columbina
  • Species: Columbina inca

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Inca Dove in the USA

This species is found throughout the southern United States, from southern California and Nevada through Louisiana and south into Mexico.

The Inca Dove can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Columbina Inca – Inca Dove

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